Suspect Arrested After Montreal Synagogue Defaced With Swastikas

January 14, 2021

Police in Canada have arrested a 28-year-old man after a synagogue in the Montreal suburb of Westmount was desecrated on Wednesday with several spray-painted swastikas.

In a letter to shul members, Rabbi Adam Scheier of Congregation Shaar Hashomayim described the incident, saying that the suspect “drove up to the synagogue and parked across the street, came out of his car holding a canister of gasoline and a can of spray paint.”

“He took out the spray paint and proceeded to spray swastikas, the symbol of Nazi Germany but unfortunately the seemingly eternal symbol of hatred of Jews and death to the Jews,” Rabbi Scheier recalled.

A synagogue security guard immediately confronted the vandal, and police were summoned to arrest the man, who surrendered without a fight.

A police spokesperson said the suspect would undergo a psychiatric assessment. He was expected to be brought before a court on Thursday.

The incident was widely denounced, with Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante tweeting, “We strongly and unreservedly condemn these attacks…I express our full solidarity and support for Congregation Shaar Hashomayim and the Jewish community of Montreal. These hateful acts have no place.”

The Federation CJA — a Montreal-based umbrella Jewish group — stated, “The Jewish community is outraged by today’s vile assault on Congregation Shaar Hashomayim in Westmount. This attack targets the entire community and all those who embrace civility and tolerance.”

Michael Mostyn — CEO of B’nai Brith Canada — said, “This incident is another jarring reminder of the constant need for vigilance in protecting our Jewish communal institutions. Antisemitism can rear its ugly head anywhere and any time, and we must always do our part to combat it when it does.”